Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Car Camping at Indian Lake



I am sitting now in my REI camp chair at Indian Lake, Farmington, Iowa, enjoying temperatures in the 70's, car camping with my wife. We are here for three days, arriving on Monday and leaving Thursday morning before the beginning of Memorial Day weekend (and thunderstorms, weather in the 90's, and the resulting humidity). My wife is set up in a nearby camp shelter and is working remotely with her consulting business.

This is our camping goal this summer, in addition to my individual bicycle camping romps. We want to get away from the house and office and enjoy more time outside in the fresh air and sunshine (although I also am out in the garden a lot). To that end, last year we bought a new six-person tent from the Big Agnes company, a Big House 6 Deluxe base camp tent. We also bought cots, REI camp chairs and an REI camp table. We went camping once with the tent before the season ended.

This year we added a vestibule to the tent, which really added to the experience. That is where I am sitting now as I write, in the shade, comfortable in my chair, my little ASUS Chromebook on my lap, writing offline using a <txt> app, which loads better onto my blog than Google Docs. Before me through the frame of the vestibule entrance, a grove of oaks are my silent companions. I hear geese at the lake, which is down a short hill to my right. I've doped up with bug spray because the spring gnats are active. It works well enough. (I've loaned my wife my hat-mounted bug net which I take bike camping.)

This last week has been a new experience for me. I traveled for three days on my bike in this area, visiting two new county parks, my trip ending here at Indian Lake where my wife picked me up. Before leaving, we reserved the tent site for three days, so I went home and immediately began packing for this car camping trip. I was unpacking and packing at the same time!

This year we also purchased better pads for the cots so that we could be ensured the most comfortable sleep. They are definitely only for car camping because they are Big Agnes's largest! Also, we picked up a Yeti ice cooler, which is much more insulated than the less expensive brands. Because of the additions to our camping inventory, we are having a comfortable yet productive time.

Car camping is certainly different than bicycle camping. First of all, with car camping there's that "super-sized" experience of all the equipment, including the vehicle, being larger . . . and heavier. Next, the ever-present concern of bicycle touring--what do I take and  what don't I need--is not really an issue. Throw it in if we think we might need it! Oh, I guess I should add that we also bought a van a year ago. We aren't RV glamping yet, but I do have to admit that we had some fun at home the other morning browsing the internet and looking at Airstream's new sixteen-foot camp trailer, the Basecamp. Pretty spiffy, but the idea of hauling such a beast around is daunting. I think we'll enjoy tent camping for the immediate future.

It is an interesting experience, though, to bicycle camp and to car camp at the same site. Our particular site is designated "primitive" because electricity and water at not available on-site. Water is available about fifty yards away at the shelter and lodge site, as is electricity for my wife's office work. Right now, I have moved to the shelter site, hoping the gnats are a little less concentrated than beneath our tent's vestibule.

Tomorrow our children and grandchildren will visit, and we will have a barbeque dinner at another shelter site that is near the playground. I'm having a good time. My only idea now is that I'll buy a second mosquito net so that I'll be able in the future to spend more time keyboarding and less time shooing bugs. I'm getting pretty good at doing both simultaneously, though!